I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Haiti - the Tragedy before the Earthquake

The largest earthquake ever recorded in the area rocked Haiti on Tuesday, collapsing a hospital where people screamed for help and damaging other buildings.
CBC Radio 1 news stated that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.   The newscaster did not discuss the causes of Haiti's pverty: it is directly related to, and caused by, environmental degradation .  And environmental degradation is in turn caused by a desperate search for energy by the desperately poor population of Haiti.
 With an electricity sector that only covered 10% of Haiti’s population in 2006, chronic energy shortages have contributed to Haitian’s search for alternative sources of energy. Unfortunately for Haiti’s natural environment, wood became and continues to be the principal energy source in Haiti, accounting for 70 percent of energy consumption in 2006. This resulted in the steady deforestation of Haiti.
The environmental destruction in Haiti  led to a corresponding social destruction.  The fuel wood shortage is exploited by the already wealthy  to exract huge profits from most of the population .... Earthquake or no earthquake, Haiti will not be stable socially until its environment is healed.   Perhaps Haiti is a heartbreaking and frightening reminder of the fact that the economy is a subset of the environment  - and not the other way around.

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